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Nightmare Sequence

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"I get up put on the light, dreading the oncoming night
Scared to fall asleep and dream the dream again"
Iron Maiden, "Dream of Mirrors"


Some dreams are heart-warming visions of hope, filled with cute and cuddly creatures, so delightful they make you want to fall asleep right away. Other dreams...aren't.

There are nightmares that chill your soul. They are a journey through a warped mirror of reality where Transformation Horrors abound and Primal Fears are on public parade. All our comforting certainties melt away, and chaos reigns supreme. Quite frankly, after a dream like that it would almost be a relief to encounter the Outer Gods dancing to the eldritch music of blasphemous flutes.

These nightmares can show off the emotional confusion and torment affecting a character. An effective way to show a character is having bad dreams is just to go into them and show the nightmarish sequence itself. Each bizarre image can dissect the issue facing them, showing the distortions the mind puts on them.


These dreams are often, though not always, associated with Deranged Animation. Hallucinations and supposedly funny nightmares also fall under this trope.

May overlap with Catapult Nightmare, if the character having the nightmare wakes up by flinging themselves up from the bed in fright. Flashback Nightmare is a subtrope of this (and Past Experience Nightmare) where the nightmare is shown as a flashback the character's Dark and Troubled Past. See also Irritation Nightmare.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • Tetsuo's series of nightmares and hallucinations in AKIRA. These dreams vary from giant stuffed animals attacking him, to visions of his horrifying future, to having his intestines spill out of him from simply falling. We don't even want to mention the further horrors that this poor kid has to go through during the story (even though he does partially deserve it).
  • At the beginning of Attack on Titan, Eren experiences a very mysterious and disturbing nightmare complete with Titans eating people, a decapitated statue, a child's dolls spread out in the same positions as a group of dead soldiers, and a grainy shot of his mother being picked by a Titan. He wakes up in a fright with Mikasa nearby and tells her that he felt as if he had an extremely long dream but couldn't remember any of it. Mikasa then notices Eren crying and asks him why, and Eren couldn't answer that either. This was a change from the original manga where Eren only saw a seemingly older Mikasa with shorter hair telling him that she'll see him later before waking up.
  • Guts of Berserk has these quite often, both from his childhood trauma and from the monsters that constantly torment him post-Eclipse.
  • Happens several times in Chrono Crusade. Chrono has a nightmare where he's surrounded by dead bodies as Aion tempts him back to his side (hinting at his backstory). Rosette has a nightmare at the start of the Darkest Hour that serves to recap some of the trauma she's been through as well as gives a clear idea of her psychological state. And in an early episode of the anime, Rosette has a nightmare that's half flashback, half nightmare about her brother's kidnapping by the Big Bad.
  • Diamond Daydreams, in itself a rather subdued Slice of Life series, has Karin's often rather scary nightmares.
  • Digimon Tamers: During a Mind Rape-induced dream sequence (seen here, starting at 0:53), one protagonist experiences herself as a child running through a hospital and right into a razor-toothed, eyeless version of herself, with a snarling, drooling, oddly grinning version of her favorite sock puppet sewn onto her arm. The fact that this is how she equates her mother's death does NOT help matters in any way/shape/form. The true psychological impact can't be had without seeing her slow degeneration throughout the series from using the puppet as a cute way to talk to people into being actively controlled by the puppet, but the images are arguably worse for sheer Nightmare Fuel out of context.
  • The Stand Death 13 has this ability in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, killing people when they fall asleep. The worst part is that even if you wake up before it can get to you, you have no recollection of what happened in the dream...
  • The premise of Nightmare Inspector is Hiruko the Baku's entering into people's nightmares with them in order to figure out what they mean.
  • Himeno from Prétear has these in an episode of the anime. It's actually caused by Takako/Fenrir, who wants to communicate with her.
  • An episode of Yes! Pretty Cure 5 features nightmare sequences for four of the main characters, induced by The Dragon for a pretty good reason. The idea is to cause the girls to despair.
  • Downplayed in Azumanga Daioh, when Osaka dreamt of meeting Chiyo's dad. It was mostly super bizarre because of Chiyo's dad presence, but in the short end of the dream, Chiyo's dad suddenly threatens to rip off Osaka's tongue for her saying that she got cat's tongue, unlike him. The effect is doubled in the original version, where Chiyo's dad is voiced by Norio Wakamoto, famed for his roles as many villains, and while he's using his more wacky normal voice throughout the dream, when he threatened, Wakamoto dipped into his villain voice (albeit a Large Ham one), making it feel like he was serious in ripping Osaka's tongue.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Near the end of Happy Diary episode 46, Wilie has a bad dream where he finds that his parents have returned to their castle, only to find out shortly after that they were taken away in chains by an invisible hand, leaving Wilie stranded in the black void.

    Comic Books 
  • The Adventures of Tintin: The dream sequences in "Tintin" will never be surpassed in terms of creepiness. Yet, for the sake of this article, let's just mention the nightmare scenes:
    • In "Tintin: Cigars of the Pharaoh" Tintin is locked inside an Egyptian tomb and put to sleep with sleeping gas. He then dreams several strange images combining recent people he met and Egyptian artwork.
    • In "Tintin: The Crab with the Golden Claws" Tintin dreams he is turned into a bottle, which Haddock is planning to uncork.
    • In "Tintin: The Shooting Star" Tintin dreams he is visited by Philippulus the prophet who then shows him a picture of a gigantic spider, claiming it is life size!
    • In "Tintin: The Seven Crystal Balls" Tintin and his companions all have the same nightmare: that they are visited by the Inca mummy Rascar Capac who enters their bedroom by night and then throws a poisonous crystal ball on the floor. This is even more terrifying in the animated series.
    • In Prisoners of the Sun, Tintin dreams that Calculus is admiring an "Inca Tree" whose flowers are skulls while a real Inca menaces him with a spear, next Tintin asks the Inca, who now has Haddock's face if he has a licence for the rifle over his shoulder, upon which the Inca turns into a mysterious Indian who has been following the heroes and blasts Tintin with fire for blasphemy. Tintin then wakes up with hot sunlight on his face.
  • Batman Black and White: "In Dreams" opens with one-off character Karen having a nightmare in which she's menaced by the Batman.
  • One issue of Magic: The Gathering (IDW) starts out with Dack Fayden's nightmares, because Ashiok is causing nightmares all over the plane of Theros.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW) Issue #5 starts with this, and mentions the mane 6 have all had nightmares for an entire week. It's during another one that the Nightmare Forces kidnap Rarity and take her to the moon. In the following issue they are confronted by the same nightmares, but overcome them thanks to each other (with the exception of Rarity, who's still kidnapped, of course).
  • Nero: Nightmare sequences occur quite frequently in the series, among others in “Moea Papoea”, “Beo De Verschrikkelijke”, “De Gouden Vrouw”, “De Ark Van Nero”, “De Paarse Futen”, “Zwoele Charlotte” and “De Draak van Halfzeven”.
  • Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel:
    • Guiv's nightmare is being attacked in the Tower of Silence by countless skeletons, and then being surrounded by doubles of himself, whose heads turn into skulls as he cuts them off.
    • Shirin's nightmare is a dust storm raising up giant boys made of dust, who carry off Ferdos, claiming him as "one of us."
  • Dream of The Sandman curses a man who kept him locked up for decades with the never-ending nightmare, where every time he thinks he's woken up, the nightmare continues. The few panels of this we see are horrifying.
  • Several of them in Supergirl storyline Bizarrogirl:
    • The story starts out with Kara reliving her final battle against Superwoman. As she is hitting the supervillain, accusing her from destroying her planet and causing a war, Superwoman retorts the Kryptonians were not blameless, Alura was far from innocent, and Supergirl killed her. Then her flesh melts off her face, and a legion of skeletons -including Supergirl's dead parents'- move in on Kara to drag her down with them.
    • During her trip to Bizarro World, Supergirl has another nightmare in where she finds herself in New Krypton again. She tries to warn people their planet is about to explode, but she has lost her voice. Then New Krypton explodes and Supergirl feels her flesh melting off.
  • Suske en Wiske: The album "De Bokkenrijders" starts off with Wiske telling a nightmare she just had and Tante Sidonia explaining its symbolic meanings. Of course, as the story progresses Wiske's nightmare turns out to she was Dreaming of Things to Come.
  • In Transmetropolitan, Spider Jerusalem has one after he stuffs himself with drugs (again) when he realizes he has become a Japanese-like anime, a cheesy live action TV series and a porn movie. Sadly, he has a fairly good dream at the beginning.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1987): After Hippolyta's death the reader is treated to a series of Diana's nightmares in which Hippolyta's burnt and dying form asks why Diana didn't save her. When Diana learns her sister is having the dreams as well she realizes they're being inflicted on them by Circe and hunts the witch down.
    • Wonder Woman (2006): After Diana is trapped in a dreamlike state by Stalker she has a nightmare within it in which she looses her compassion and soul and sees herself as a heartless Amazon queen with her old friends and mother forced to bow to her and her villains heads displayed on pikes before her throne.
  • Yorick in Y: The Last Man suffers from constant nightmares, usually involving his girlfriend Beth. So much so that when Yorick finally does meet her his first reaction is to storm off in the belief that he's just having another cruel dream.

    Fan Works 
  • In chapter 8 of Advice and Trust, Asuka has a nightmare in which she and Shinji were fighting Israfel again, and Shinji dies. Meanwhile Shinji has another nightmare where he sees Asuka sinking again in the volcano's magma, he jumps in to rescue her, and he misses.
  • Bait and Switch (STO): Eleya's recurring Flashback Nightmare of the time ten years ago she was stabbed while repelling a Boarding Party.
  • The Child of Love: In chapter 3 Asuka has a nightmare in which her mother’s disembodied voice urges her to dying with her.
  • Children of an Elder God: Shinji has one in chapter 5. It starts quite innocently, looking like a fairy tale where knight Shinji has to move all of Princess Asuka's possessions to become a god, and he is helped by a horde of cute penguins. Then it takes an increasingly unsettling turn when he is led deep underground until a vast subterranean lake filled with a bubbling, seething sludge from which formed tendrils. Shinji tried to back away and then a horde grabbed him, ripped his clothes and threw him naked in the lake. And then it got real disturbing.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: The night before her birthday, Asuka has a very violent, bloody nightmare where the MP-Evas eat her alive again.
  • HERZ: In chapter 2 Asuka has a nightmare where she dreams of the Angel War and how weak she felt when Zeruel destroyed her, how defiled she felt after Ariel’s Mind Rape, how worthless and useless she felt after being unable moving her Eva to fight Armisael, and what it was like when the MP-Evas tore her apart.
  • In If Firestar Never Joined Thunder Clan, Grayflight has a disturbing dream about his Clan dying and then a tiger rips his head off. In the second book it doesn't get better. Bristlepaw has a nightmare where Blackstar and his Clan capture them and worship fire. It's scarier when the dream comes true.
  • The Inside Out fic Intercom originally had one, where Riley sees a future version of herself, driven mad by the voices in her head. This was cut after the author saw the movie and realized that Dream Productions doesn't work like that.
  • In Jonathan Joestar, The First Jojo, Jonathan has one at the beginning of chapter 3, where he's punched through the torso by Heaven Ascension Dio and left there to bleed out.
  • Last Child of Krypton: In chapter 11, Shinji and Asuka suffered several nightmares as they fought Leliel’s psychic assault. Shinji saw his self choking Asuka on a beach under a red sky, and Asuka saw a version younger of herself turning into a monstrous, blood-stained doll and urging her to die with her before strangling her.
  • In the The Lord of the Rings fanfic Left, Frodo has a nightmare about finding out that he murdered Sam when Sam offered to share the Ring.
  • In the Laverne & Shirley fanfiction Milk 'n' Pepsi, Laverne has a nightmare in which she dies after giving birth. Its sequel, Drink the Water, focuses on Laverne worrying that the nightmare will come true.
  • Morticia's Nightmare is a fanfiction of The Addams Family, in which Morticia has a nightmare where her husband Gomez dies.
  • In My Little Pony AU Fanfic Mutant, Twilight has one that involves Yog-sooth in the third chapter.
  • In episode 10 of Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide, Asuka has a nightmare: she relives her mother's madness and suicide, sees her mother's rag doll hanging from a ceiling, and hears several disembodied voices declaring that they hate her, before feeling a noose tightening around her neck.
  • In The Loud House fanfiction The Nightmare House, everyone has a nightmare, like the title implies. Lori dreams that her siblings don't need her and she shrinks, Leni dreams that she gets immobilised and fed to spiders, Luna dreams that she gets trash-talked by her idol and an old lady, Luan dreams that her audience are all statues and Mr. Coconuts is sentient and mean, Lynn dreams that she accidentally decapitates Lincoln, Lucy dreams that she gets vomited on by possessed dancers, Lana dreams that she gets brainwashed into behaving more stereotypically feminine, Lola dreams that her facial features drop off, Lisa dreams that she gets sent to daycare and babied by an evil teddy bear, Lily dreams that the mortgage is a baby-eating monster, and finally Lincoln dreams that evil creatures replaced his sisters.
  • In Nosflutteratu, after spending the evening researching vampires Twilight Sparkle has one of these.
  • In Once More with Feeling Shinji suffered nightmares where he revived the battle against Sandalphon, except that he missed when he tried to rescue Asuka, and she sank, begging him to save her.
  • The One I Love Is...: In chapter 11 Shinji has a nightmare where he relives his worst failures: first he sees Unit-00 fighting Armisael and blowing up. Then Rei appears and says that he let her die before bursting into flame. Right after Asuka shows up, accuses him from never loving her and betraying her trust, and then slits her wrist. When Shinji tries to touch her, her body erupts in a shower of blood, covering him whole. Shinji screams and then he wakes up.
  • Both Yang and Cinder get these in The RWBY Loops, with separate causes and each preying on their insecurities. Notably, Yang's are guided by a specific entity and, eventually, she manages to conquer the issue without losing her mind; Cinder's are portrayed as surreal and mind-breaking, probably because they're caused by Slenderman, and by the time she shakes them off she is utterly insane.
  • In chapters 2 and 4 of The Second Try, Shinji and Asuka have several nightmares where they revive the events of Instrumentality.
  • In the The Loud House fic Syngenesophobia, Lincoln’s mental trauma causes him to have several nightmares about his sisters torturing him. One is shown in detail, in Chapter 3; it involves Lincoln being chained to the floor of his house, while his sisters, now looking like demons, prepare to kill him with various weapons.
  • Thousand Shinji: In chapter 13, Rei has several awful dreams where she kills Asuka and Shinji kills her in retaliation or he kills himself and she tries to commit suicide to join Shinji and Asuka in the Afterlife.
  • Universe Falls:
    • In part one of "Sock Opera", a sleep-deprived Dipper nods off and has a nightmare about Lapis Lazuli and Jasper, who are trapped as Malachite at the bottom of Lake Gravity Falls.
    • "Do It For Them" opens with Dipper having a nightmare inspired by the events of "Sock Opera". Dipper is reunited with Lapis Lazuli, only for her to turn out to be possessed by Bill Cipher. As Bill taunts Dipper, Dipper falls off a cliff and turns into a wooden puppet. Making it worse is that it's the latest in a series of nightmares Dipper has been having, and it's ambiguous as to whether they're happening on their own or if Bill Cipher is deliberately tormenting Dipper in his dreams For the Evulz.
  • In the RWBY fanfic Various Vytal Ventures this makes up the majority of the 'Hide and Seek' chapter, where a Nightmare Grimm is purposefully stirring up such sequences in the characters minds.
  • During the epilogue of The Vow, Shen dreams as a helpless spectator his attack on the panda village, including his chase of the infant Po and his mother that ended with him murdering her, except that he's chasing his wife Lianne and their infant son. Unlike Po's mother, Lianne doesn't get a chance to hide her son before she's caught by Shen's wolves and killed by Shen personally, exactly the same way he killed Po's mother in real life. The nightmare ends with the dream version of Shen ordering his son to be killed.
  • In We Are All Pokémon Trainers:
    • Fool goes through a rather freaky one during the AU Arc in which she sees herself (The one she identifies as "Sol") using the corpses of Pokemon that she murdered as marionette puppets. A Shout-Out to a very similar scene in Felidae.
    • Happens to Sakura not too long after her debut, she mentions that it happens frequently, but they stopped once she found Lyuri.
    • Straw goes through these at least somewhat often, such as being stabbed by Jab and dreaming Crewe died and he was only finding this out when he was married to Elise.
    • Tagg has one following the Orre arc after drinking himself unconscious at Kat's wedding.
  • The Meaning of Harmony has many of these and even opens on one, all involving Sunset's magic going out of control, and the world turning to crystal. They get progressively worse as more Forges are activated.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Twilight has a brief one in chapter 21, of Chrysalis destroying books (two of her worst fears in one), before Princess Luna intervenes.
  • One Girl With Ten Brothers: Luke has a nightmare where his brothers beat him up while shouting homophobic slurs and his parents throw him out of the house for being bisexual and dating a boy, all while Linka, who's the only one who knows about his sexuality so far, is powerless to help him or stop the other Louds. It increases the insecurity he has about his sexuality.
  • In What You Wish For, Lori Loud has a nightmare where a red-eyed Carol Pingrey claims Lincoln is her brother now.
  • Fighting Hell starts to take its toll on Team RWBY in Remnant Inferis: DOOM, with each of them (and other characters) having horrific nightmares as a result.
    • Ruby has a disturbing one involving a mutilated, deformed version of her mother trying to drown her in a pit of blood and gore; condemning her for following in the Huntress' lifestyle.
    • Weiss dreams that she loses her fight against the Gigas first seen in the White trailer, her father Jacques sells Atlas out to Hell and she's dragged away by two Imps wearing SDC vests.
    • Blake has nightmares of the Slayer killing off all of the White Fang, including her father and Ilia.
    • Cinder has a nightmare remembering her parents summoning a demon that proceeded to kill them and all the other cultists, with her being the only survivor of the attack due to Salem rescuing her.
    • Yang has one where an Imp's arm thrusts out of the pancake batter Summer was making and kills her in front of the child Yang.
  • Part of Gone Wrong depects Roger's nightmare.
  • In Enlightenments, Wander has very frequent nightmares. They're mostly about being on the wrong end of an abusive relationship with his wife or his experiences with being forced to kill children.

    Films — Animation 
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven had a disturbingly vivid sequence that is mostly recalled for putting the fear of divine punishment and existential dread in its young audience. Our protagonist, Charlie is sucked into Hell, where he gets trapped on a ship slowly sinking into a lake of lava while being tormented by demon rats and a gigantic devil thing. Charlie screams for help covered in demons as the end of the ship he's on slowly descends into the lava... and then he wakes up.
  • In the animated film Anastasia, Anya/Anastasia the title heroine has a nightmare during the boat scenes at stormy night while things start off with her family swimming around happily in the water beckoning her to join them, they then suddenly turn into the bat-like demon minions of undead sorcerer Rasputin. It's made even more horrible by the fact that Anya is a sleepwalker, so when she watches her family's swimming from a cliff she's actually standing at the railing of the deck, and the demons are trying to make her fall into a certain death. The dream was caused by Rasputin in the first place, and so was the sleepwalking - he was trying to use his dark magic to make her commit suicide in her sleep. When Dimitri stops her from throwing herself into the water, that's when the spell is broken and the dream becomes a nightmare.
  • The Brave Little Toaster featured nightmare sequences where the titular Toaster is menaced by a horrifying Monster Clown in a fireman outfit, then falls to his doom into a bathtub.
  • The "Pink Elephants On Parade" segment of Dumbo, a rare instance of hallucinations.
  • The dreams in Felidae are perhaps the most twisted animation ever created. Those dreams are just freaky, specifically the one involving Gregor Mendel giggling demonically "EXPERIMENTS WITH PLANT HYBRIDS!" while putting on some kind of twisted marionette show using the decomposing corpses of gutted cats, with their entrails as the marionette strings.
  • A Goofy Movie has a bit at the beginning where Max has a nightmare in which he's in an idyllic scene with the girl of his dreams, and suddenly turns into a giant lumbering copy of his dad.
    • An Extremely Goofy Movie features one in the middle of the film where Goofy falls asleep in the middle of taking a test. It starts of idyllic with him hanging out with Max, only for Max to turn into a hulking, brutish monster and dump Goofy into an abyss while Max yells at him to get his own life. The whole thing leaves Goofy shaken and causes him to fail the test, resulting in a Heroic BSoD for a while.
  • James and the Giant Peach has the eponymous character dream that he's a caterpillar eating the peach in the title. Suddenly, his wicked aunts appear and spray a pesticide cloud at him... which then morphs into James' greatest fear — a rhino that killed his parents — that proceeds to pursue him and shortly after corner him under a bridge. All the while, his aunts chant in mock singsong voices "The rhino will get you!" in the background. Not to mention that the dream itself is presented in unsettling cut-out animation that resembles a deranged, nightmarish Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch.
  • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Simba has a nightmare where he tries and fails to save his father from falling to his death in the wildebeest stampede, and is then thrown into the gorge himself by Kovu.
  • Considering that Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland is All Just a Dream, the entire climactic scene with the villain could be considered a Nightmare Dream, but the sequence with a subtler horror is a Dream-Within-A-Dream where Nemo goes to the kitchen, to find his mother washing the dishes, except that a train's coming, barrelling ever closer and closer towards them while Nemo's mom does not budge, just says, "Don't be silly, Nemo," as the whistle screams and—
  • The "Heffalumps and Woozles" nightmare scene from Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. See it here. The insane laughter of the honey pot is probably one of the worst bits.
    "...they tie themselves in horrible knots, they come in stripes and polkadots!"
  • Shrek the Third contains a sequence where Shrek is back home, safe and sound... until he's suddenly near-crushed by a literal flood of babies. Plus "Baby Donkey" and Baby Puss n' Boots". "DADA!"
  • Toy Story 2 had a dream sequence where Woody is thrown in a garbage can, and when he tries to crawl out he is pulled back by a mass of discarded toy parts working together to form a giant Akira-style tentacle. They were originally going to use this in the first movie as well. There's also an episode of the Toy Story Shorts that is based around this entire trope.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, Moses has a hieroglyphic-depicted nightmare of himself being in the village where the Hebrews reside and he sees the Egyptian guards taking the newborn sons away from their mothers. He also sees his biological mother and siblings running to the Nile while hiding from the guards. He follows them and he sees his mother putting a baby in a basket. That baby is him, and he realizes the truth about his true heritage. Then, he runs away from Egyptian guards who are chasing him and he falls down into the crocodile-infested river along with the newborn infants.
  • In Twice Upon a Time (which is about a Dream Land), the fool heroes Ralph and Mum are briefly trapped in a waking nightmare in which they are attacked by sentient office supplies — making matters worse, the heroes are only inches tall...

    Films — Live-Action 
  • An American Werewolf in London:
    • There's one upsetting nightmare scene in which the protagonist sees his family shot in their home by what can only be described as Zombie Werewolf Nazi Goblins. The fact that The Muppet Show is playing on the television doesn't help. Quite possibly one of the most horrifying nightmares in all of film.
    • Then there's the one where he's seen biting a deer.
  • In Bad Dreams, the protagonist Cynthia, who went into a coma after barely surviving a mass suicide, is tormented by images of the dead cult leader, Harris.
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce has several nightmare sequences, the first one being the opening of the film itself, with Bruce reliving his parent's murder, and the day of their funeral, where he accidentally fell into the caves beneath the Wayne estate, disturbing the bats within. Although it's subverted with the "Knightmare", where Bruce finds himself in a wasteland that was once Gotham, as a resistance fighter against an oppressive regime led by Superman. The fact that the nightmare contains things Bruce doesn't know about at this point, such as Parademons, and the appearance of Barry Allen at the end with an Ominous Message from the Future, makes this clear this wasn't a dream, but a vision of a Bad Future.
  • In the 1996 film The Cable Guy, the main character Steven has a nightmare in which Chip (Jim Carrey) pounds on the door a few times but there's no answer, but later he bursts through the door and snarls, "I JUST WANT TO HANG OUT. ...NO BIG DEAL!" and chases him. This nightmare is a parody of the chase scene from Wolf.
  • The Day the Earth Caught Fire plays the sequence throughout the movie. What starts with two atomic bombs being activated at the same time, ends with the Earth gradually being pulled towards the Sun.
  • Death Wish 4: The Crackdown opens with Kersey confronting three muggers who beat and rape a girl. When Kersey kills all three, the last one he rolls over turns out to be himself. Kersey then wakes up via Catapult Nightmare.
  • A whimsical example in Earth Girls Are Easy: In the afterglow of her night with alien paramour Mac, Valerie slips into a Deliberately Monochrome dream that starts with a TV set screening clips from Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and, as she desperately changes the channel, the 1946 Beauty and the Beast — the latter confronting her with her romantic dilemma: Should she go with Mac to his home world, since he's leaving as soon as his ship is fixed? She then looks outside to find that the familiar faces of her neighborhood are all aliens of various sorts, and as she runs through her house in a panic there are even more creatures and robots running amok. She tries to turn to her Earthly (and unfaithful) fiance Ted for help, only to see him start attacking pre-makeover Mac as the dream dissolves.
  • There's a good chance that Eraserhead is entirely made out of this trope.
  • In The Fly (1986) Veronica (Geena Davis), having found out she's pregnant by a man who is undergoing a Slow Transformation into a Half-Human Hybrid, subsequently has a nightmare in which she gives birth to a squirming maggot-like creature. The film originally was to have an epilogue that included a Dream Sequence in which a human baby with butterfly wings emerges from a chrysalis as a hopeful counterpart to this, and answering the question of whether she would bring her pregnancy to term or not, but none of the four filmed versions of the sequence played well with the creators or test audiences so the film instead closes with her lover's death by her hand and leaves the question unanswered.
  • The film The Ghost and the Darkness has a scene after the protagonist kills the first lion. The railroad construction is back on track and his wife is coming to visit with their new baby. And then the other lion comes running out of the grass.
  • In Gothika, the main character suffers two of these.
  • Michael and Laurie have these in Halloween II (2009).
  • In Herbie Rides Again, Corrupt Corporate Executive Alonzo Hawk is tormented in his dreams by evil Volkswagen Beetles after Herbie thwarts his evil schemes.
  • In Hollow Man, Linda is fast asleep in bed with the windows wide open. Suddenly, the bed covers slip off of her and Caine crawls onto her bed, takes her underwear off, and begins to rape her. And then she wakes up with the bed covers still on her.
    • In a similar manner, Rosemary's Baby, has a sequence in which Rosemary is drugged and undressed by her husband and a local cult, and then raped in her sleep by the devil. She later awakens to discover that she is pregnant, but her husband goes along with her assumption that he "went ahead and did it".
  • The Lazarus Effect has Zoe's recurring nightmare of a fire when she was young.
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout opens with Ethan having one of these. It has Ethan marrying Julia in what appears to be at a lake, when the priest is revealed to be Solomon Lane, who tells Ethan that he should have killed him. A nuclear explosion suddenly appears and vaporizes all three before he wakes up.
    • There's another one later in the film, when Ethan's sleeping in the back of the team van on the way to London. This dream also features Julia and Lane, and Ethan wakes just as suddenly and silently, looking just as shaken.
    • Ethan has a vivid nightmare/hallucination sequence while traumatized and sleep-deprived in the first film as well, this one heavily blurring the boundaries between dream and reality.
  • The "Moloch Machine" sequence from the silent classic Metropolis. After witnessing a dreadful accident, Freder hallucinates one of the machines in the lower levels of the city is a shrine to a God of Evil, consuming the workers killed in keeping it running like human sacrifices.
  • Monkeybone has many - a drug that could be described as "Nightmare Fuel" is even a plot point.
  • Liu Kang has one of these after being knocked unconscious by Nightwolf in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.
  • The heroine in Next of Kin (1982) experiences two of these over the course of the film, both hinting at events from her childhood and the possibility of a family curse. In the first, she sees herself as a young girl wandering the deserted hallways of the Montclare retirement home while carrying a red ball. In the second, she sees a recent drowning victim swimming towards her window and tapping at it.
  • The entire A Nightmare on Elm Street series is themed around this, as Freddy Krueger attacks his victims through nightmares. Even worse, considering how much power he has over the dreamscape, he is able to manipulate your dreams according to your fears, desires and insecurities. Makes the glove itself feel like being put to sleep in comparison, not to mention a more merciful death at that (let's just say the multitude of freakish nightmares some of the teenagers suffer increase in frequency the further the series progresses rather than describe them).
  • Pee-wee's Big Adventure has two of these — in the first one he sees a stop-motion dinosaur eat his beloved, missing bicycle, and in the second there's evil clowns and even a trip to Hell! A third scene was also filmed involving a giant monkey (which is actually Francis), but was deleted.
  • Rambo has one of these in Rambo IV, which culminates in Trautman shooting Rambo in the stomach, which was from the original planned ending for First Blood.
  • The Secret Garden: Mary, at one point, has a bad dream in which her mother leaves her in a jungly version of the garden, and she's a little kid.
  • Another Wes Craven movie, The Serpent and the Rainbow, includes several zombie-themed nightmares suffered by the protagonist.
  • The dream sequence the main character in Son of the Mask has. His wife being pregnant and giving birth... only to reveal that she is pregnant with many, many, many babies, all squirming and crying with fanged mouths.
  • Star Trek: First Contact opens with Picard finding himself inside a Borg cube and part of the collective hive mind, before he's experimented on and his eyes are almost pierced by a needle. There's a fakeout where it seems like he's woken up, but then a Borg implant bursts out of his cheek before he wakes up for real.
  • Strange Nature: Kim has one about her son growing up into a deformed mutant with a half-frog face as a result of living in her town. In the dream, after eating, he goes into a small room, puts a gun to his head, and says "Thanks, mom." before shooting himself. She wakes at the sound of the gunfire.
  • Sarah Connor is plagued by this trope and its contents in the movie Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
    • Likewise, Kyle's dreams/flashbacks in the original movie.
    • Given in Aliens Ripley has a nightmare about a Chest Burster, the director has a thing for this.
  • Briefly parodied in Top Secret!: Nick's back in high school! It's the day of the big chemistry test and he hasn't studied! Then he wakes up and realizes he's actually a prisoner in an East German torture dungeon. "Thank God!"
  • Vanilla Sky, the whole movie IS a nightmare, but there are many scenes picturing a dream/nightmare inside a nightmare/dream
  • Certain scenes of Videodrome. It's hard to say which.
  • The basis of The Evil Within is that Dennis has been having these since he was 4. He even lampshades how dreams generally lack logic, making them sound ridiculous when you try to explain them, but his special dreams, while surreal and terrifying, make perfect sense, and their narrative continues through the dreams.
  • Under the Bed: Paulie falls asleep in his theater group and has a nightmare. It ends with a man with black gunk on his face popping in and shouting "Wake Up!" at Paulie, causing him to wake up and freak out.
  • There's a horror movie from the early '60s called The Mask (no relation to The Mask with Jim Carrey) about a cursed Aztec death mask that prompts visions like this, eventually driving the wearer to madness and murder. The nightmare sequences drip with Surreal Horror, and are easily the high point of what is otherwise a rather unremarkable movie.

  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The original book is a single extended dream sequence, and the various film versions do not skimp on the horror.
    • The original might or might not count, but The Nursery Alice most assuredly does. The text is the classic Carroll story, but the illustrations were apparently created by a morbid impressionist while on a bad acid trip.
    • In the 1985 adaptation the White Queen, played by Carol Channing, turns into a sheep, just like in the book, but here the sheep's face is so ghostly and its bleating so unearthly that it's terrifying just to look at. Alice even has a terrified reaction towards it!
    • Similarly, the scene where the Duchess' baby transforms from a wailing human child to a writhing, screaming piglet.
    • And then there's the Jabberwock scene, which seems to be cruelly engineered to traumatize children. Watch if you dare. It looks as though Alice has made her way home, but she's actually still stuck in the world Through the Looking Glass. She can see her parents on the other side of the mirror and cries for their attention, but her mom and dad can't hear or see her and she's left to wander the limbo-like mirror room. She comes upon the Jabberwocky book and starts to read it — and then the monster (which could have been co-designed by H.R. Giger and Wayne D. Barlowe) comes charging into the room to eat her and then... that's the cliffhanger ending of the first episode of the two-part special!
      • In the original publishing, an illustration of the Jabberwock was intended to be the frontispiece, but was deemed too fearsome.
    • How can one babble about Alice in Wonderland being nightmare fuel without including the American McGee version? She is an asylum patient in the game After her parents burned alive in a house fire!
  • Battle Royale: Several characters have nightmares, usually in the form of dreaming about discovering their classmates mutilated corpses. In the manga version, Shogo Kawada says that a nightmare is the brain's way of working through the experienced horror.
  • Berenstain Bears:
    • "The Bad Dream" focuses on Brother and Sister having nightmares about a cartoon villain.
    • In "Learn About Strangers", Papa's story where a goose gets eaten by a fox gives Sister nightmares.
  • The title character of The BFG is a giant who travels to Dream Land to catch dreams, and then blow the nice ones through the windows of sleeping humans. He generally makes it a policy to destroy the nightmares, but his human friend, Sophie, convinces him to make a specific nightmare to send to HM The Queen, warning her about the other giants and their people-eating ways. They feel very bad about it, but it's the only way they can prepare the Queen to believe them when they ask for her help in getting rid of the giants.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Death Star, a trooper transferred to the titled battle station starts having nightmares, some of them about his own death. They make it hard to sleep. Medical staff is short, so a surgeon reluctantly looks him over, takes his blood, and gives him medication. Then the Death Star fires on a prison planet, the trooper wakes up screaming, and his dreams get exponentially worse. The surgeon tells him that it turns out he's Force-Sensitive. His dreams come true.
  • From the Deryni books.
    • While being held captive by Caitrin and Loris in The Bishop's Heir, Dhugal has a vivid nightmare about facing divine judgement for failing to save Kelson, whose gory corpse rises up from its bier to point an accusing finger at him.
    • When Kelson reads Loris' mind during questioning late in The King's Justice, he learns that Camber appeared to Loris in a dream (later speculation attributes this to his possession of Duncan's episcopal ring, which was originally made for Henry Istelyn from an old piece of altar plate associated with Camber himself). Reliving the experience through Loris's eyes, Kelson knows that while Camber spoke of tolerance, Loris so demonized all things Deryni that for him it was a nightmare.
    • During his preparatory meditation for Conall's triggering ritual in The Quest for Saint Camber, Morgan gazes on the unconscious and frail Nigel, dressed in Haldane red court robes with one of the state crowns on a pillow above his head. Suddenly, Morgan vividly imagines himself standing in the Haldanes' royal crypt gazing down at Nigel's body on his funeral bier.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
    • In "Dog Days", Rowley has a nightmare where there is a chicken under his bed.
    • In "Double Down", Greg has several nightmares: in one he has a tail and is being mobbed, in another he has been kidnapped by zombie pirates, and in another, his teeth are falling out.
  • Dilly The Dinosaur: In one story, Dilly sneaks out of bed and watches a horror movie where humans are evil. He then has nightmares about humans attacking.
  • Dirty Bertie:
    • In "Mud!", Bertie has a nightmare about playing soccer with a team of Miss Boots.
    • In "Pants!", Bertie has a "Not Wearing Pants" Dream that counts as Anxiety Dreams because he's afraid due to having lost a bet that means he has to go to school in his underwear.
  • In Dragons of Winter Night, the protagonists suffer through a particularly horrific nightmare.
  • In A Game of Thrones, Eddard Stark has recurring dreams about the death of his sister Lyanna, including a particularly infamous flashback that still continues to inspire Epileptic Trees about the circumstances of her passing. Near the end of the book, while imprisoned, he sees a dream of his dead friend Robert mocking him, only for Robert's visage to crumble away, revealing Littlefinger's face beneath.
    • In A Storm of Swords Jaime dreams of a woman (implied to be his mother) who laments about how her family has fallen down. The dream turns quickly into the late Kingsguard and Prince Rhaegar blaming Jaime for the death of Rhaegar's family, something that has been haunting Jaime for years.
  • Constantly used in the Goosebumps books, I Live In Your Basement! having the most by far.
  • The nightmare in How to Eat Fried Worms.
  • Harriet the Spy: Harriet has a nightmare about Ole Golly the nursemaid disappearing.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss' dreams are usually a horrifying mishmash of bad memories and fear-gripped imagination, like everyone getting their tongues cut out or all her loved ones screaming in agony.
  • In Geoph Essex's Lovely Assistant, the first brief Time Skip starts off with a very weird (and, this being Geoph Essex, initially humorous) situation which rapidly degenerates into a Nightmare Sequence before Jenny wakes up. A lot of the bad dream is stuff she already knows (or thinks she knows), but there's enough Foreshadowing (some subtle, some not) to also qualify it as a bit of a Dream of Things to Come.
  • Manifestation: One of the main characters, Tock Zipporah, suffers from a vivid nightmare about a figure from her past.
  • Midway through Midnight’s Children, Saleem has a nightmare of his time in the Widows' Hostel, with the Widow depicted as a grotesque, green-and-black monster who tears children in half. The narration for the scene is suitably confusing and chaotic, just like a real dream.
  • Mog:
    • In "Mog the Forgetful Cat", Debbie has a nightmare where a tiger wants to eat her.
    • In "Mog and the V-E-T", the vet has a nightmare where his office is full of wild animals.
    • In "Mog on Fox Night", Mog has a "cross dream" where Mr Thomas her owner has thrown out all the eggs in the world.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, sometimes Jack Frost's mischief causes Rachel and Kirsty to have these.
  • The protagonist of E. F. Benson's "The Room in the Tower" has increasingly ominous dreams about paying a visit to... someone, who keeps sending him off to sleep in that room in the tower. Then, one day, he gets an invitation from a chum, and things go From Bad to Worse.
  • In The Silver Codex, Xarissa's dreams are these she has to dream about horrible things happening in town.Tevan has one where his mom blames him for being put in an asylum, and his abusive father say he will turn into him.
  • The Stories of Nypre series mixes this with Dream Within a Dream when Nypre gets trapped from the mind altering effects of the Night Land.
  • In Those That Wake, the main characters each have nightmares before their lives are altered.
    • In the sequel, Mal has recurring nightmares of Man In Suit.
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: The island where dreams come true. When the sailor joke about what they would find, the man who had been trapped there screams that it's not daydreams, it's dreams. Which inspires a proper panic in them. Even after their escape, the man they rescued is in a state of collapse from the horror.
    • Apparently, everyone saw different things, based on nightmares they'd had. Like a boggart from Harry Potter, except it's a whole island.
  • Neshi the Tech Detective in The Wandering has one in the beginning of the story, where he enters a city where people are feasting on one another, and on his exit from it, an army approaches and he gets stabbed by a spear, with a voice calling "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I weep for thee." The nightmare is later revealed to be shared by various members of the Jerusalemites, who believe that it is actually a prophecy.
  • The authors of Warrior Cats seem to like horrific blood filled nightmares considering how many there have been in the books. Some even feature the characters drowning in blood.
    • A notable example is in Yellowfang's Secret, in which Yellowfang is forced to watch kits inflict damage upon each other that is far beyond what even an adult cat could. Some kits are so young that they haven't even opened their eyes yet.
    • Also, Lionpaw frequently experiences nightmares where he unknowingly kills his friend Heatherpaw.
    • The trainees in the Dark Forest are subjected to brutal combat training in their dreams each night, and their injuries carry over into the waking world. And if you die in your dream, you die in real life.
  • In Wet Goddess:
    • After leaving to Evergreen State College, Zack has a nightmare of dolphins being confined in wooden boxes and rotting alive. It later turns out to be a message sent by Ruby.
    • Zack conjures one up himself to show Ruby the taboos of human sexuality.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Big Bad Beetleborgs had an episode centered around this trope, in the episode "Booger Man" there was a monster called Booger Man (also known as Booger) who was a boogeyman that came to Hillhurst and gave the house monsters nightmares. Flabber has a nightmare involving the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe. At the end they send him over to the Crustaceons lair to give Les Fortunes nightmares.
  • Played for laughs in the Blackadder The Third episode Ink and Incapability where Blackadder has a nightmare which starts off with Baldrick "waking" him up and ends up with Baldrick turned into an Alsatian. Then Baldrick wakes him up.
    "Hang on a second, if we go on like this you're going to turn into an Alsatian again."
  • One episode of Bones cold-opens with the titular character having a nightmare related to a recurring Big Bad. After a few very well-crafted snap-cuts and surreal rapid-fire imagery, however, the impact is somewhat reduced when the sequence cuts to a shot of hundreds of versions of the Big Bad, each holding random case-related objects.
  • Played with on The Daily Show for Hallowe'en 2001. Steve Carell, reporting on a haunted house, complains that it isn't scary enough. A dream sequence follows involving his high school gym coach, Stephen Colbert as the show's new host, and clips from Corky Romano. He wakes up screaming - next to Jon Stewart. They both scream. But only because they weren't expecting to see a camera in their bedroom.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show plays it for laughs with the episode "It May Look Like a Walnut", although the Assimilation Plot in Rob's dream actually is kind of unsettling.
  • Most of the Dollhouse episode "The Attic" is a parallel nightmare world in which inmates' fears can kill them not only in the dream sphere, but also in real life.
  • In the Drake & Josh episode "Mindy's Back", Josh has a nightmare in which he tells Drake that he and Mindy are dating, and then Drake's head explodes.
  • In the Frasier episode "Freudian Sleep":
    • Niles has a nightmare about being a terrible father. He finds himself in a Caligari-esque bedroom, and has all kinds of accidents in raising his baby, including his dropping it and the baby shattering like a plaster vase. Thankfully, the creepiness is mitigated by the funny exchange that occurs when Niles wakes up:
      Niles (terrified): I can't do it!
      Daphne (groggily): Just as well; I'm too tired anyway.
    • In addition, during Daphne's nightmare, she dreams that Niles is sleeping with a sexy female version of Martin.
    • Frasier has two nightmares: a creepy one where he dreams that he killed Niles and married Daphne, while keeping Niles's ashes in a tin next to the coffee; and a panic-stricken one where his radio booth fills up with dozens of telephones, only one of which is ringing, which he frantically tries to find and answer while Roz's booth morphs into a car dashboard and she yells that if he doesn't find the right telephone in five seconds, she's going to drive them off a cliff.
  • Full House:
    • In "The Test", D.J. has a nightmare the night before her SAT test, where everything goes wrong for her test, heavily foreshadowed by the events leading up to it.
    • In "My Left and Right Foot", Michelle has a nightmare within a nightmare where her feet become enormous after her sisters teased her about her foot size.
  • This happens in the The Green Green Grass episode "Bothered and Bewildered", when Boycie has a nightmare after thinking that Mrs. Cakeworthy cursed him.
  • One episode of Jessie opened with a nightmare where Jessie was eaten by a giant version of Mr. Kipling.
  • Lost uses this in many an episode.
  • The Man in the High Castle:
    • In season 2, Frank Fink dreams about visiting his sister and her children and joining them in a Judaic prayer before gas starts pouring down from the ceiling, killing them all.
    • In season 3, John Smith has a dream about spending the day fishing with his dead son Thomas, before Thomas vanishes and the lake turns out to be filled with dead, bloated corpses.
  • The "Dreams" episode of M*A*S*H uses this as its premise.
  • In an episode of Seinfeld, after Jerry gets his Uncle Leo arrested for shoplifting, he has a nightmare about Leo working out in prison, clearly planning to get revenge on him once he gets out, the whole sequence being a Shout-Out to Cape Fear.
  • Sesame Street:
    • In one episode, Cookie Monster has a nightmare where there are cookies floating around and he can't catch them.
    • One episode focuses on Oscar having nightmares about happy people (seeing as he's a Grouch.)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • The episode "Night Terrors" focuses on everyone except Data and Deanna Troi being unable to reach R.E.M. sleep. All of Troi's dreams are nightmares that turn out to be an alien communicating telepathically.
    • The episode "Phantasms" focuses on Data (he's an android) trying out a program that enables him to dream. He has several nightmares that turn out to be aliens warning him about some parasites infecting the crew.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: The episode "Waking Moments" involves aliens who live in their dreams manipulating the Voyager crew's dreams and putting them in a Deep Sleep. They all have nightmares (Tom dreams he's crashing a shuttle, Harry dreams that an alien is watching him kiss Seven of Nine, Tuvok dreams he's forgotten to put on his uniform, Janeway dreams that her crew have died, Chakotay dreams that his father turns into an alien, and Neelix dreams that he's being Stewed Alive).
  • The Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad episode "To Sleep, Perchance to Scream" is centered around nightmares.
  • Played for laughs in the 3rd Rock from the Sun episode "A Nightmare on Dick Street", since the aliens never had dreams before.
  • Much of the plot of Twin Peaks centered around Agent Cooper's dream in the second episode.
  • V: The Final Battle opens with a claustrophobic sequence in which Mike Donovan is trying to escape a Visitor mothership with his son Sean, being pursued through the corridors by their soldiers. He breaks down when Sean is blasted to death, upon which Julie wakes him up at resistance headquarters.

    Music Videos 
  • The video for "Easy" by Barenaked Ladies has little to do with the song itself, and a lot more to do with bloodstained warped-fairytale imagery. The crows don't help.
  • Iron Maiden has many (mostly by Steve Harris, who must sleep horribly), most notably "Infinite Dreams" and "Dream of Mirrors". Also, "The Number of the Beast" was based on both Damien: Omen II and a nightmare of Harris.
  • Pink Floyd, as seen here. Gerald Scarfe deserves a lot of credit for that. Hard to believe he'd end up working on Disney's Hercules, isn't it?
  • All videos by tool.

  • Our Miss Brooks suffers through nightmare sequences on at least three different occasions:
    • In "Connie's New Job Offer," Miss Brooks dreams she leaves Madison and becomes the mayor of a city in New Jersey. However, the dreams ends with Councilman Conklin impeaching her for her tyrannical rule over the city.
    • In "Connie Tries To Forget Mr. Boynton," Miss Brooks' efforts to forget about Mr. Boynton leads her to see his face on everyone: the American ambassador to India, a society matron, a fourteen-year-old boy, even a baby. Fortunately, Its All Just A Dream.
    • In "Friendship," Miss Brooks suffers a recurring dream where a man chases her with a knife.


    Tabletop Games 
In Pathfinder, the Lovecraftian Strange Aeons Adventure Path opens with one, where the characters are hunted down and murdered by the first adventure's primary villain, before waking to find themselves locked in an asylum. the final adventure in the path brings the characters back to this moment, where they're responsible for waking their past selves from the nightmare in time to escape.

  • In The Book of Mormon, at the end of the first act, Kevin Price decides to screw Rule #72 and leave Africa for Orlando, where he always wanted to go instead. His first scene in the second act finds him not in Orlando but in Hell. Once this "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" ends, it's revealed that he passed out at the bus station.
  • The Mrs. Hawking play series: Mrs. Hawking has one in part VI: Fallen Women, as she slips into unconsciousness bleeding out from her fight with Jack the Ripper.

    Video Games 
  • In Ambridge Mansion, at the beginning of the games, you play through Silas' nightmares. You wander around a creepy monster-infested house until you die in your dream.
  • Baldur's Gate has multiple dream sequences throughout. Most consist merely of Breaking Speeches, although the one you get just after receiving the Slayer Form is kind of creepy...
  • In Bastion, The Kid walks right into one of these while exploring Jawson's Bog, thanks to the hallucinogenic properties of the place. In his dream, he has to fight his way through a series of unsettling landscapes... with the Narrator actively speaking against him.
  • The battles with Scarecrow in Batman: Arkham Asylum are this, thanks to copious amounts of fear toxins.
  • In Bloodborne, both the Hunter's Dream and Nightmare of Mensis are formed by two rivaling Great Ones with surrogate hosts, The Nightmare of Mensis was formed by Mergo using Queen Yharnam and Micolash as the host to grant insight to the School of Mensis, while the Hunter's Dream was formed by Moon Presence using Gehrman as the host in order to undo the Great One's unintentional madness brought to Yharnam, and this is the exact origin of the Hunt. The entire story of Yharnam revolves around the two rivaling nightmares, and you can explore the two nightmares to uncover the truth of the dreams.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, Catie suffers from strange nightmares throughout her adventure, always involving three unknown women and a host of mysterious voices crying for help. It turns out to be the three missing pieces of her soul trying to reunite with her before it’s too late.
  • Burial at Sea Episode 2 begins with a happy dream in Paris that quickly turns into a nightmare, with Elizabeth chasing a girl through the dark and stormy streets, passing a picture that foreshadows Atlas's torture of her, and ending with Elizabeth surrounded by screaming children trapped inside burning vents.
  • Vincent's nightmares in Catherine. He has to make his way up staircases made of blocks to reach the top. If he fails (falling off the stage, crushed by falling blocks, caught in traps or being killed by the weird creatures that pursue him), then he dies in real life.
  • Dark Messiah has a few nightmare cutscenes, which are made worse by the fact that they're in first-person like the rest of the game. The worst part of those dreams was they turn out to be the truth, and the thing you thought was real was the ACTUAL dream.
  • Horror puzzle game DARQ is set entirely within the nightmares of a boy who has become aware that he is dreaming and needs to use what control he can exert over the nightmares to try and escape. This allows him to walk up and down walls, twist and warp the world like a rubik's cube through the use of conveniently-placed handles, and in one extreme case, cut off his own head to use it as the final piece of a puzzle, but he also has to avoid horrible monsters that will kill him if they get their hands on him.
  • The Deep Sleep Trilogy has the protagonist stuck inside of a lucid-nightmare, being chased by figures who resemble moving shadows. This is ultimately played with though, as it turns out early in the second game that these are more than just dreams and the protagonist is actively stuck inside it.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Vaermina, the Daedric Prince of Nightmares, exists to cause these in mortals. By inflicting a mortal with ceaseless, horrific nightmares, she can cause a full blown Mind Rape.
    • Morrowind:
      • After a certain point during the main quest, the Player Character will start to have these everytime he/she rests due to the corrupting influence of Dagoth Ur.
      • If the player character is inflicted with Vampirism, he/she will have nightmarish dreams when attempting to rest. Notably, resting no longer restores health, forcing the vampire to absorb it from other people and/or rely on potions/spells/enchantments to heal.
    • Oblivion:
      • In the quest "Through a Nightmare, Darkly", the PC uses a magical amulet to enter the nightmare world of a mage in order to rescue him. In his or her skivvies, no less.
      • In the Daedric quest of the aforementioned Vaermina, Vaermina sends the PC into a nightmarish world of burning corpses, molten lava, zombie-o-rama, only to find that the entire quest is the never-ending nightmare of a wizard who stole an artifact from Vaermina.
      • Like Morrowind, a vampire player character will have these when attempting to rest if your "stage" of vampirism increases.
  • Fable II has a sequence in which after you are shot by Lucien, you enter a dreamlike state where Rose and your parents are still alive, and live on a peaceful farm. At first, this is very pleasant, until nighttime. You wake up to the sound of a music box and leave the farm, but your sister follows. If you head down a path beyond a now-opened gate, your sister begs you not to leave and eventually vanishes with a desperate Big "NO!", and the area outside turns out to be full of fire and dead bodies, all while a music box is playing in the background.
  • Fear Equation uses these as a means of indicating whenever the omnipresent fog is attacking your passengers by manifesting any recent nightmares they claim to have had. The effectiveness of said attack depends on what defenses have been constructed.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI, the creepy music and imagery in Shadow's first dream.
    • Final Fantasy XV has a nightmare sequence wherein Noctis finds himself fighting off Imperial soldiers and magitek armors, only to be robbed of his magical abilities.
  • Gabriel's recurrent nightmare is a very important plot point in the first game, Sins of the Fathers. It is actually tied to Gunter's last moments, and has been tormenting his descendants for 300 years.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon is chock full of these.
    • In the first generation, a lot of Foreshadowing is involved, such as hinting that the Point Man shares a bond with Alma, since, as Paxton Fettel says "She cannot see into your mind, but you can see into hers" or that lieutenant Chen will be killed by a monster in Perseus Mandate.
    • The second game uses these as a sign that Alma is trying to approach Becket sexually.
  • If the Player Character avoids socializing on her wedding night in Guenevere, she's rewarded with a dream of being brutally murdered in her wedding dress, capped off with the appearance of a threatening, ominous young man.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • In a similar vein as the above, LSD: Dream Emulator is just as disturbing.
  • Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete has a brief but remarkably puissant sequence of nightmares. As Alex sleeps in the middle of the woods, we get treated to a cutscene of his nightmare. The kidnapped love interest, Luna, appears against a black background. Her singing can be heard in the background, along with her crying out Alex's name twice and a strange gurgling sound. The camera begins to zoom in on her and her shouts become more frantic. Suddenly, the singing stops and her voice warps into an unnatural low pitch (if there's such a thing as an Uncanny Valley for voices, this sequence nails it perfectly) and a bloody liquid suddenly floods the bottom of the screen.
  • Shepard in Mass Effect 3 has several over the course of the story, reflecting their Survivor Guilt and increasing weariness as the Reaper War drags on. They consist of Shepard slowly chasing the young boy who died on Earth in the prologue through a desolate forest, while the voices of dead former squadmates echo in the background. When Shepard eventually catches up with the boy, he bursts into flames while Shepard is forced to watch. In the final sequence, Shepard bursts into flames as well.
  • Zero's opening cutscene in Mega Man X4 has Zero waking up only to be ordered by Dr. Wily to destroy his arch-nemesis. Zero then suffers a headache as he's being forced to carry out those orders. The scene cuts to a laboratory, followed by Sigma screaming for his life, then we're treated to still shots of some Reploids brutally murdered with their mangled body parts and blood splattered throughout, Zero's blood-soaked hands, more dead bodies, then a close-up of one of his victims before finally waking up for real. Zero implies that he has this nightmare more than once.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater has a nightmare sequence that doubles as a minigame. If you save your game while Snake is in a prison cell, then load that save file, you'll get a brief minigame where you play as a hook-sword wielding warrior fighting zombies. After a few minutes, Snake jumps awake, and the game resumes as normal.
  • Neopets has a random event where everything goes wrong but it turns out to all have been a bad dream.
  • Neverending Nightmares is basically a one huge Nightmare Sequence.
  • In the same vein of the series above, Nightmare House 2 has several of these. It's actually Romero trying to mess with your head by using his mind control Core.
  • In NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams:
    • Helen feels guilty for constantly spending more time with her friends than with her mother. Shortly into her opening cutscene, she is walking down the street with two friends when she stops and sees something that reminds her of her mother in a store window. As she starts feeling guilty again, her mother's image appears faintly in the window. She gives Helen a sad gaze, but this abruptly turns into empty red eyes and a hideous snarl. The expression is just distorted enough to start heading into the Uncanny Valley, and the suddenness of it makes it as good as a screamer.
    • Technically, every boss battle in both games is one of these. Most of the really creepy, surreal ones are in Journey of Dreams, but Wizeman is horror in either.
  • Nightmare Ned, one of Disney’s more obscure video games from the 90s, where you get inside the head of a 10-year-old boy and enter some pretty horrifying nightmare worlds and help him make sense and overcome his fears.
  • Oni features one when Konoko visits her father's lab. It's a particularly tough level, featuring consecutive boss fights against the game's Big Bad Muro, Konoko's superior Griffin and finally Konoko herself, interspersed with trippy imagery.
  • Planescape: Torment has loads of these, most of which are your own memories, the rest being sensory stones (devices which store and can recall memories, experiences and sensations).
    • One particularly nightmarish example is a sensation through which a night hag Ravel Puzzlewell decides to contact you. Upon touching a sensory stone, you find yourself inside the body of a traveller who once sought her out. She took both of his or her eyes, the tongue, both arms and hacked off the legs below the knees. The night hag then tells the traveller to return to Sigil to deliver her message, or else "ANOTHER bite shall she a-take". While you listen to the message, you're trapped in that traveller's body, with all sensations that come with it.
  • Quest for Glory IV:
    • The game has literal Nightmare Fuel in the form of a Cask of Amon Tillado, a wine that gives the drinker dark visions of the local Eldritch Abomination rising to destroy the world.
    • Also the nightmares you have when you sleep in Erana's garden or under her staff.
  • Entering a little girl's dreams in Yume Nikki? That can't possibly be so-OHMYGODWHATWASTHAT!? Madotsuki, you have problems.
  • This comprises the latter half of the Runescape quest Dream Mentor.
  • Each episode of Sally Face starts with Sal's nightmares, ranging from memories of losing his face to meeting an oversized horribly emaciated nightmare-faced My Little Pony to being chased by a huge slug-like Eldritch Abomination with a television camera for a head.
  • During the two nighttime stages in Scratches, both vaguely centered on an evil African mask hidden in the mansion. And each time Micheal wakes up, he hears scratching noises coming from the basement.
  • Early in Shenmue, Ryo has a nightmare of Lan Di murdering his father.
  • Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri has the "Dream Twister" Secret Project, which gives the known and liked Mind Worms a 50% bonus to their psionic attack by (judging by the cinematic) allowing them to tap into their victims' specific fears.
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has sequences where monsters chase you down, and all you can do is run and hide. They are referred to as "The Nightmare" by the game tutorial, but since Harry is the only speaking character to experience them, they barely get acknowledged, much less referred to by name.
    • In Silent Hill 3, the opening level is a nightmare, which is ended by Heather being killed and waking up in a diner. Turns out dreams come true in Silent Hill.
    • Silent Hill 2 seemingly shifts into this type of experience during and after exiting the hospital. This is the only time of the game where the town becomes dark, for one. The character is lead to a "Historical Society"; from there, James encounters features unlikely to exist, such as a very-very long stairway, and very deep man-made-looking holes that don't cause injury from jumping into them. Also, one room has a deep hole that is protected by a prison bar-gate, with doors and ceiling features on the walls making this a hallway that has been rotated down 90 degrees. Additionally, James encounters a labyrinthine area with dead-end halls occasionally found. The nightmare seems to end after James gains a significant insight, and this places James back into the foggy town from earlier.
  • This happens whenever you sleep in Spaceship Warlock, often depicting unsettling visions of the Kroll empire and the mysterious Stella Starbird who was brought onto the ship with you and her father. They end abruptly when Captain Hammer wakes you up with your next mission objective.
  • Total Distortion makes a couple of minigames out of this trope, where the general goal is to avoid nightmares that drain your mental energy, while solving a puzzle or collecting falling "Zs" to gain mental energy.
  • In Toy Story, the first Boss Battle happens when Woody has a nightmare of being attacked by a flying, real-laser-shooting Buzz Lightyear. If he dies in the nightmare, he dies for real. It's also a particularly hard boss fight.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • In Charby the Vampirate Zeno has a flashback nightmare of being vivisected alive his first night in the cabin and one of the individuals trying to manipulate him gives him further bad dreams in the attempt, some of which are shown in comic.
  • Dead of Summer has one, starting here and ending here. The latter part isn't just a dream.
  • In Dan The Snowman, the eponymous hero seemingly has a flashback nightmare that may or may not be his origin story.
  • Cail and Gabe, two of the main characters in Dear Children have unsettling and distorted dreams at the end of the second chapter.
  • Early in Devils Cake Zoshi turns Tad's nice dream about his upcoming date with Kea into a nightmare. It is implied he's done this to everyone who has ever shown a romantic interest in her.
  • In Forest Hill, the young rabbit Kaleb has one about a girl who he wants nothing to do with.
  • Several of Celina's imp's are shown in Imp. He tends to bite his hand and talk in his sleep as well.
  • This Loserz strip.
  • No one seems to sleep that well in Slightly Damned, as a significant portion of the characters get either nightmares or Recurring Dreams.
  • Zombie & Mummy "...have a nightmare"

    Web Original 
  • These three panels of Chess Piece. Very freaky.
    Phantom: Papa's blood is delicious, Papa's blood is pure, it is essence and we are bathe[d] in bless. So drink... and be happy. After all. You killed him.
  • On the website Neopets, in the plot "Curse of Maraqua", we're introduced to two Maraquan Aisha sisters. One of them, Caylis, had nightmares of unavoidable disasters that come true. (Her sister, Isca, dreamed of good things to come)
  • On We're Alive: The first two minutes of "Desperate Times". Don't worry, Pegs, Latch is not coming back.
  • The Phase novels from the Whateley Universe. Phase has nasty nightmares really often, sometimes several in one night. and given that Phase has suffered Transformation Trauma for real, and has fought an unkillable Eldritch Abomination, and has been tortured by a Mad Scientist, he has horrific nightmares.

    Western Animation 
  • The opening scene of the Galaxy Rangers episode "Psychocrypt". Made worse when you realize that it isn't a nightmare, but a form of Mind Rape the Queen is using on Zachary and his wife...
    • There was also one of these in "Scarecrow." Niko has a nasty nightmare after the Scarecrow attacks her. She dreams of waking up in her own grave, and the Scarecrow jumping in to strangle her with his bare hands.
  • In the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "No Chipmunk is an Island", Alvin, Simon, and Theodore move into separate bedrooms after a fight, only to have nightmares about what would happen if they were left unchecked by each other's presence:
    • Alvin dreams of living in a ridiculously opulent house with an enormous artificial wave pool. However, it uses so much electricity that a torch-and-pitchfork mob, led by Dave, Simon, and Theodore, chops a tree down onto his power lines, causing the wave pool to malfunction and send him spiralling down a whirlpool.
    • Simon dreams of being a multi-Nobel Prize-winning scientist and inventor who is assisted in his discoveries by robotic versions of Alvin and Theodore. However, they quickly break their programming and destroy Simon's experiments, then pursue him around his lab before throwing him into a glass tube that shrinks him to a height of six inches.
    • Theodore dreams of life in an idyllic country cottage, where he is free to cook elaborate recipes with enormous portions. However, he eats so much that he and his teddy bear inflate like balloons and float away, attracting unwelcome attention from the US Air Force.
  • Arthur:
    • In "Germophobia", Buster has a dream where germs are visible and doing an Evil Laugh.
    • In "Sick as a Dog", Arthur has a nightmare about bad things happening to his dog Pal at the vet.
    • In "Arthur's Lost Library Book", Arthur has a truly terrifying nightmare about being haunted by ghosts, captured by the literal long arm of the law, and punished in a barbaric manner for losing a library book (by having the library books he checks out chained to a crank the librarian operates). It's so scary Arthur even lets out all of his usual Stock Screams, including of course his Catapult Nightmare wake-up.
    • In "D.W.'s Furry Freakout", D.W. has a nightmare where a giant cat is attacking Elwood City.
    • In "Binky Goes Nuts", Binky has a nightmare where Mrs MacGrady doesn't let him eat anything and makes him sit next to some sloppy kids with bizarre allergies.
    • In "D.W.'s Time Trouble", D.W. has a nightmare where she goes back in time and makes it so that she is the oldest. It starts off good, but turns into a nightmare when Arthur starts acting like a Bratty Half-Pint and D.W. gets lost.
    • "Arthur's Underwear" focuses on Arthur being afraid due to his "Not Wearing Pants" Dream's.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Comes with a severe case of Mood Whiplash in the episode "Nightmares and Daydreams". Aang is nervous about the invasion of the Fire Nation, and is having nightmares. The first two are funny, with Aang about to face a giant Fire Lord but missing his pants and forgetting to study for a math test. The third however, is an insane and freakish affair that looks like it came straight out of The Ring (sorta). It features Toph missing her eyes, Sokka, Katara, and Aang being engulfed in mud, fire, and ice while a giant fire takes the shape of Ozai with an evil laugh and attacks Aang, Momo eerily putting his finger to his mouth, and finally Aang suddenly in a field, watching as it is symbolically destroyed by Sozin's Comet. You can understand why he decides to stop sleeping. And then he starts having hallucinations of Momo and Appa arguing and getting into an epic sword fight.
    • Also, in Season 1 Aang had several nightmares about the day he ran away and was frozen in the iceberg. The last one we see starts off fine, with Aang flying with Appa while his friends ride on his glider and a giant Momo. Then he sees the storm, and when he warns his friends he notices that they are not there. Then Monk Gyatso shows up and asks him why he ran away before disintegrating.
    • At one point, Aang also dreams of losing control of the Avatar State, and is outside his body while it was killing people.
    • And Zuko's dream in "The Earth King", where he's being crowned Fire Lord with dragons representing Azula and Iroh at his side when the audience turns to dust, and we then see Zuko's mother sinking into the ground, while the Azula dragon tells him to "go to sleep, just like mother". This scene was originally supposed to show her being eaten by the Azula dragon, but they decided that was going too far. He then wakes up and walks around before noticing that he's bald with airbender tattoos, and then wakes up for real.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Both parts of the "Two-Face" episode have one. The first opens with Harvey Dent trying and failing to escape from "Big Bad Harv" persona, foreshadowing his eventual fall. The second features Bruce suffering from a nightmare early on of his guilt for failing to keep Harvey from becoming Two-Face.
  • Bob's Burgers:
    • In "Friends with Burger-Fits", Bob is worried that his burgers have contributed to Teddy's high cholesterol, and has a nightmare where disembodied hands sprout from his body, pull out Teddy's still-beating heart, and cram it with hamburgers until it swells grotesquely and threatens to explode.
    • In "The Millie-churian Candidate", Louise has a nightmare about her Stalker Without a Crush Millie winning the class election, and using her power to force Louise to be her best friend, going so far as to have the marching band make an anthem to their "friendship" and get the Home Ec club to sew their clothing together.
    • In "The Grand Mama-Pest Hotel", Linda has a nightmare about growing apart from Tina that ends with Tina running away and Linda getting trapped in a giant scrapbook.
    • In "PTA It Ain't So", Linda discovers that Joanne, the PTA president, has been Stealing from the Till, but is pressured into keeping quiet about it. Linda eventually has a nightmare where Joanne tries to get her to sign a contract in blood, then pulls off her face to reveal a Big Red Devil, then pulls off that face to reveal Linda's own head as Joanne lets out an Evil Laugh and the two are surrounded by flames.
    • In "Pig Trouble in Little Tina", Tina has a series of nightmares about being tormented by the ghost of a fetal pig she had to dissect in science class.
  • In the Catscratch episode "Evil", Waffle wakes up to find out his fur is falling out- Mr Blik tells him that it's because he's cursed and evil. Waffle actually believes it. he has two nightmares in one he turns into a lizard-like beast and then some bug monster- then he eats Gordon and Human Kimberly, in another one he zaps Hovis the butler with a beam from his eyes and laughs manically. He is heard doing Evil Laughter in his sleep but then he covers up his mouth.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • "Der Fuehrer's Face": Donald dreams of being an overworked, underpaid laborer in a munitions factory in Nazi Germany.
    • "Pluto's Judgement Day": Pluto is scolded by Mickey for his habit of chasing cats, which prompts the dog to have a nightmare where he is lured into a courtroom composed of a hellish cavern where everyone else in the court is a cat... a demonic black cat, at that. Poor Pluto doesn't even get a chance to defend himself, as the cats cruelly torment him throughout the brief trial before finding him guilty and sentencing him to be executed by being lowered into a bonfire. When he wakes up it all turns out to have been an Opinion-Changing Dream, because now he'll be nice to kittens.
    • The Mad Doctor: Mickey attempts to rescue Pluto from a very insane and sadistic Mad Doctor/Scientist who tortures the pup with a glee, having to face a lot of horrors that the doctor/scientist's lair provided, and waking up only after almost being cut in two while being Strapped to an Operating Table.
  • The Color Classics short "Play Safe! Play Safe!" has the scariest trains ever.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog's final episode was full of these, the worst being a horrifying CGI monstrosity quietly telling Courage, "You're not perfect."
  • Daria has some.
    • In the episode "Monster", Daria and her friend, Jane, make a documentary for class about Daria's sister Quinn. Daria dreams that she has become her fashion-obsessed sister. In the nightmare, Daria has the body and voice of Quinn and her own head, while Jane has the bodies and voices of Quinn's equally vacuous friends and her own head.
    • In "Through the Lens, Darkly", Daria believes herself to be vain for getting contacts and so has a nightmare where she goes through a Hall of Mirrors and her body gets distorted by the mirrors.
  • An episode of Doug had Doug suffering from reoccurring nightmares when he couldn't bring himself to see The Reveal of the monster's true form in the horror movie The Abnormal. He is finally cured when he is dragged to the films final showing by his dog Porkchop, who holds his eyes open so he can see that the monster's costume is depressingly lame (one can even see the zipper up the back). It also turns out his friends were too afraid to see the monster, and Roger denies it.
  • DuckTales (1987): It happens to Scrooge twice, at the beginning of "Earthquack" and the beginning of "The Unbreakable Bin." Both dreams involve Scrooge in his money bin, being attacked by the Beagle Boys.
  • The Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Rock A Bye Ed" is centered around this trope.
  • Futurama:
    • In the episode where Bender sells his body, he has a nightmare where he sees a two in the middle of some binary.
    • One episode focuses on Leela having comatose dreams after being stung by a space bee, some of them fall into nightmare territory (being accused of killing Fry, etc).
  • The King of the Hill episode "The Man Who Shot Cane Skretteburg", wherein Hank experiences a disturbing hallucination of himself and his friends being (paintball) gunned down by the episode's antagonists. The sequence plays like a bad acid trip — probably a little too effectively. (Deranged Animation runs rampant.)
    • The episode "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret Hill" has a scene where Peggy dreams about dooming a convent to Hell for posing as a nun to get a full-time teaching job.
    • The episode "Hank's Unmentionable Problem" has one where Peggy dreams that Hank dies of complications relating to his constipation, which ends with Cotton flushing the coffin into the ground. This scares Peggy when she wakes up and finally convinces Hank to see a doctor.
  • The Russian short His Wife Is a Hen has the main character go through one. It's telling about the rest of the short that the only real indication that it is a dream is the fact that the character awakens from it.
  • An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes has Lucius suffering from these after Jimmy casually says You Owe Me. Even though Jimmy would probably never collect, he has nightmare about having to do degrading things for him.
  • Kim Possible begins the Post-Script Season with a reprise of Kim and Ron dancing at the prom in So The Drama... until Kim shrivels up and melts into synthodrone goo. Ron then wakes up screaming.
  • Little Bear: In one episode, Duck has a nightmare where some geese are chasing her.
  • The Famous Studios Little Lulu and Little Audrey cartoons have a few of these. In "Musica-Lulu", Lulu is knocked unconscious and in her ensuing dream, she is tried by a Kangaroo Court of musical instruments who then chase her.
  • Martha Speaks:
    • In "Martha Fails the Course", Martha has a nightmare where she is balancing on a rocky ledge and giant versions of her friends are laughing at her.
    • Martha's dream in "Verb Dog: When Action Calls" is only a nightmare at the end: it ends with herself muzzled, Helen petrified, Ronald about to take over the world, Alice frozen and T.D. tied up.
    • In "Too Much Martha", Martha has a nightmare where she's literally paper-thin.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Rainbow Dash's dream that introduces "May The Best Pet Win". All the cast's pets appear, merge into one creature, then Opal pops out of the thing's mouth like a xenomorph's tongue. Freaky.
    • Scootaloo's dreams in "Sleepless in Ponyville" turn into nightmares based on Rainbow Dash's Ghost Stories.
    • Sweetie Belle's dream in "For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils", fueled by a guilty conscience and directed by Princess Luna, ends with a nightmarish montage of a Bad Future for her sister.
    • All three of the Cutie Mark Crusaders get nightmare sequences in "Bloom & Gloom" - starting with Apple Bloom's recursive dreams, and later as Princess Luna shows her Sweetie Belle and Scootaloo's dreams fuelled by their own anxieties.
    • Everypony gets them, including Princess Luna herself, in "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?", caused by the Tantabus, a creature that creates and feeds on nightmares.
    • Starlight Glimmer and Luna have their own nightmare sequences in "A Royal Problem", Starlight because she regrets her rash decision to swap Luna and Celestia's cutie marks, and Luna because she is failing so badly at performing the role Celestia normally fills.
  • Nightmare Ned. The entire show is a string of nightmare sequences inflicted upon Ned every time he slept, and every episode ends with him feeling terrified and paranoid.
    • Nightmare Ned also had a PC game made by Disney Interactive. The entire game is one big sequence of nightmares, and to get the good ending you have to solve puzzles and reveal the shadowy monsters that plague Ned's dreams.
  • "Dream Scheme," an episode of The Powerpuff Girls featured the Sandman as a villain who puts everyone in the entire world to sleep. The girls defeat him in this crazy and disturbing dream sequence...thingy featuring chickens, a praying mantis, and trippy oil projector backgrounds.
    • "Power-Noia" pitted the girls against Him who was infiltrating their dreams and mainfesting their worst fears into nightmares. Bubbles' fear was being attacked by her toys, Buttercup's was a fear of spiders, and Blossom's was a fear of failing in school (although she wound up figuring the scheme out and set about making things right again).
  • Ren & Stimpy began to take its decidedly surreal and insane turn near the end of its run. E.g, an episode called "Hermit Ren", which was deeply bizarre right from the beginning with Ren and Stimpy living in a decaying carcass, but didn't get truly horrifying until Ren, frustrated by Stimpy's stupidity and bad habits, decides to become a hermit. The head hermit assigns him a cave, in which he is sealed for eternity. Once inside the cave the real disturbing nature of the cartoon is shown, with Ren's slow descent into complete insanity rendered in disturbing detail and depth. At one point Ren takes an ancient, decayed scarecrow of a previous hermit and attempts to talk to it, only to have it verbally mock him in return, changing its position with each jump cut back to it. At one point, he starts suffering severe delusions where the flesh on his hands melts off (in graphic detail), and he runs gibbering and screaming throughout the cave. When he looks back to his scarecrow dummy companion, he finds that suddenly it's sporting a horrifying, watery eyed version of Ren's face. And that's only scratching the surface of the traumatizing imagery of that episode.
  • Rugrats:
    • Tommy gets a minor cut from a thorn bush and has a disturbing dream in which his arm is torn open and stuffing comes out (inspired by a damaged teddy bear that appears in the same episode).
    • Undoubtedly the scariest dream sequence in Rugrats is the dream Angelica has in the episode where she finds out that she might have a baby brother/sister. It begins with Angelica hearing a baby crying and finds her parents fawning over the new baby, saying how "precious" and "adorable" it is while not knowing who Angelica is. After the mom and dad leave, Angelica talks to the baby, and, much in the same matter as Tommy and the gang, Angelica's new baby brother can talk. However, he's more like Family Guy's Stewie minus the evil humor and with horrifyingly deep and raspy voice (that is in fact, a dead-on impersonation of Edward G. Robinson), and tells Angelica that this house isn't big enough for the both of them, and says that Angelica (the "old baby") should be gone permanently. Angelica tries to tell her parents about it, but of course don't believer, and then they force her to live in the garage. The baby finds her, and for not following his advice he plans to "teach [her] a lesson". She flees from him, but the baby keeps finding her, and growing every time there's an encounter between them. The dream enters its horrifying climax as Angelica's now Godzilla-sized baby brother catches Angelica in her getaway car, wondering "what a toy car would taste like". It all ends with Angelica screaming, "No! You can't eat me, I'm your sister!" with the baby replying, "WELL NOW YOU'RE NUM-NUMS!"
    • A Halloween episode of the later series had Chuckie having a nightmare in which he turns into a Lon Chaney Jr style wolfman.
    • Then there's the Monster Clown one that Chuckie had in one episode.
      "I'm not Tommy!"
    • In the same episode, Chaz has a very similar one at the end...
      "I'm not Stu! HUHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
  • The Simpsons:
    • The episode "Bart The Murderer" features Skinner's corpse appearing in several places including rising from the grave, sinisterly droning, "You've killed me, Bart!"
    • Another one in the episode "New Kid On The Block", where Bart falls for Laura, the neighbour girl next door; upon finding out that she already has a boyfriend, he has a dream sequence where she says "I have something wonderful to tell you: I have a boyfriend!" then grabbing his still beating heart saying "You won't be needing this!" and throwing it against the wall.
    • The entire story arc of "Treehouse Of Horror II" is built around Bart, Lisa and Homer's nightmares from eating too much candy.
    • Bart dreams that the bus crashes at the start of the second act of "Treehouse Of Horror IV".
    • Again, in the second act of "Treehouse Of Horror VI", the children have nightmares in a parody of A Nightmare on Elm Street.
    • "The Girl Who Slept Too Little" has an unconscious Lisa experiencing a series of nightmares, ending with her being confronted by the creatures from an expy of Where the Wild Things Are, who turn out to be friendly and teach her that it's okay for so-called "smart" people to get scared.
    • In El Viaje Misterioso De Nuestro Jomer Homer's hallucinatory Dream Sequence — due to the effects of eating Guatemalan insanity peppers and candle wax — provides many opportunities for surreal animated sequences. It starts off as a nightmare, but after a while Homer gets more used to it and it becomes a dream.
    • In "Love Is a Many Strangled Thing", Homer has a nightmare based on his therapy sessions addressing his abusive behavior towards Bart, dreaming of himself as different people with Abusive Parents (who are of course portrayed by Bart). First, he dreams of himself as The Jackson 5 with Bart as Joseph Jackson. Then, he dreams of himself as Ben Meechum from The Great Santani, with Bart as Wilbur ("What are you gonna do, write a book about me?! You couldn't get in the door of Random House if your name was Bennett Cerf III!"). Finally, he dreams of himself as the title character of Precious, with Bart in the role of Mary.
  • In Twice Upon a Time (which is about a Dream Land), the fool heroes Ralph and Mum are briefly trapped in a waking nightmare in which they are attacked by sentient office supplies — making matters worse, the heroes are only inches tall...
  • In the DuckTales (2017) episode, "The Other Bin of Scrooge McDuck", Lena has one of these due to a magical dream catcher. It includes Magica regaining her physical form, Webby calling Lena out, Magica turning Webby into a doll, which proceeds to give Lena a brutal Breaking Speech. The dream ends after Lena disintegrates Doll!Webby by accident.
  • Hey Arnold!: "Part Time Friends". Arnold and Gerald work together at a flower shop with Gerald being the boss since the owner injured her leg and appointed him as the temporary manager. After Arnold gets into a fight with Gerald and says that he doesn't want to be friends with him, Arnold's Grandpa tells him about a similar incident that happened to him when he was Arnold's age. Arnold then begins to have a dream where he and Gerald are old, still former friends, and can't remember what they were fighting about. The dream takes a turn for the disturbing and into a full nightmare when it cuts to the old, withered, zombie corpse of Arnold's Grandpa where he says "Well, what did I tell ya, Shortman?" while some ominous music plays. He then proceeds to laugh in a really, creepy way, only for his jaw to crack and fall off his skull. Cue Arnold waking up via Catapult Nightmare.
  • Tom and Jerry: In the short Heavenly Puss, Tom seemingly dies and got rejected from Heavenly Express unless he got Jerry to sign in a certificate of forgiveness, but he got it too late and he's thrown straight to Hell to be tormented by the Devil who disturbingly looked like Spike the Bulldog. It was All Just a Dream, but the short is one hell of a Nightmare Sequence of Tom.

    Real Life 
  • Known to be truth in television. Casual nightmares can be horrifying to the extreme, overshadowing the goriest of gratuitous horror films. Reports of dreams such as watching a person being skinned alive, or worse doing the skinning in hyper-realistic detail. What is truly baffling about these dreams is that they can and do occur to people who are well adjusted, and don't reflect reality to a great extent. In other cases, intense horrifying imagery is one indicator of repressed emotions, trauma, and emotional baggage. Even then, the nightmares may seem disproportionately frightening. And God help you if you have nightmares 5 times per week. That'd ruin the relief of rest.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Nightmare Dreams, Nightmare Dream Sequence


RoA2 - The Burning Giraffe

While taking a nap, Atlas suddenly had a nightmare where a burning giraffe chases him through a sentient amalgamation of Salvador Dali's famous paintings.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / NightmareSequence

Media sources:

Main / NightmareSequence